Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Stuart Cunningham admits killing Raul Escribano in crash

A drink-driver is facing a jail term after he crashed a car while showing off in West Lothian, killing one passenger and injuring three others.

Stuart Cunningham, 42, from Falkirk, was twice the legal limit when the Volkswagen Passat hit a tree and overturned near Bathgate on 23 August.

Raul Escribano, 25, suffered massive head injuries and died at the scene.

Cunningham admitted causing his death by dangerous driving. He was remanded in custody after sentence was deferred.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Cunningham had borrowed the car at about 20:30 to drive to West Lothian.

Handbrake turn

The crash happened in Drumcross Road, on the outskirts of Bathgate, at about 22:05.

One witness, Ashleigh McLernon, 25, heard a car travelling at speed past her grandmother's home in Bathgate.

She said the Passat came "screeching" round a corner, spinning in a handbrake turn, swerving from left to right, then mounting the pavement and hitting a grit bin before speeding away.

Another witness, Sharon Gardener, saw the car being driving up and down the town's Marina Road.

She said she could hear the screeching tyres through closed double glazed windows.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said her neighbour, Steven Morris, had to jump for his life as the skidding car hit the kerb as he returned home from a local chip shop.

Mr Prentice said it was not known how fast the Passat was travelling when it crashed on Drumcross Road, near its junction with Limefield Road.

He said investigators concluded that Cunningham had failed to slow down sufficiently as he attempted to turn right.

Excessive speed

Tyre marks, he said, showed a combination of excessive speed and harsh steering.

The court heard how the car left the road and hit a tree. The impact was near the rear passenger door where Mr Escribano was sitting.

The car then spun and overturned before coming to rest on its roof.

The court heard that firefighters cut Mr Escribano, a neighbour of Cunningham's in Falkirk, from the wreckage.

The 25-year-old Spaniard, who had come to Scotland in 2011 to live with his father, died at the scene after suffering massive head injuries.

Another passenger, 24-year-old John McGarry, suffered cuts to his face and head and a gash to his arm which needed 17 stitches.

Scott Laidlaw, 25, suffered a fractured breast bone, pelvis and ribs, as well as injuries to his head and lungs.

A 15-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered a fractured pelvis and an injury to his spleen.

'Re-living youth'

Cunningham escaped with superficial cuts.

Following the crash Cunningham was stopped by the police while walking towards Bathgate.

As he was being taken to a police station he said he had been driving "like a trombone" and deserved everything he got.

He also told officers that he was trying to re-live his youth and had previously taken the route at speed in an Escort RS without incident.

Cunningham pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and failing to report an accident.

The court later heard that he had previous convictions for dangerous driving, drink-driving and driving while disqualified.

Judge Lord Turnbull called for background reports and remanded Cunningham in custody pending sentence next month.

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